Fat People Aren’t Your Goddamn Punchline

pictured: me! tired of sex toy companies’ fat shaming “marketing techniques”

It started, as so many things do, with a tweet. Well, a direct group message to be exact, from Andy at Ruffled Sheets to myself and a few others. This morning, Andy alerted us to some deplorable tweets full of fat shaming and body negativity from sexmachines.co.uk.

See the tweets in question here in screenshots from Dangerous Lilly. I’m not sharing them directly because they’re NSFW, but please do take a look.

When will this stop? When will fat people stop being used as a punchline for sex toy companies, retailers, and manufacturers? When will companies across the board in any industry stop making us the butt of the joke? When will we be seen as fully human? When will we stop having to assert our inherent worth at every turn? When will we see ourselves represented in marketing strategies in a positive light? When can we just fucking live?

The blogger response was swift and mighty. Upon further investigation, some bloggers discovered that this company also posted a tweet making light of Trump’s sexual assault comments and fat-shamed a YouTuber they worked with.

After a few hours, sexmachines.co.uk’s tweets were removed and the company made an apology. Okay, so? Is that enough? Not for me.

The problem is that those tweets were published in the first place. The problem is that someone who works for a sex toy company wrote those tweets and thought they were a good idea to send. The problem is that the tweets were left up, unchecked by any company management for almost a month, until Andy alerted us to them. The problem is that this kind of behavior replicates the oppressive power structures the sexual freedom movement aims to fight against.

The reality is that this isn’t just about sexmachines.co.uk. This is about the pervasive, persistent narrative that fat people are unworthy, undesirable, and that our bodies are bad; a narrative that’s told in many industries, by countless companies, even by folks who are supposed to be progressive.

Sexual freedom is revolutionary. It is radical. It is transformative. It affirms, among many other things, that all bodies are good bodies, that all bodies are deserving of pleasure, that all bodies have inherent worth. Fat shaming and negativity have no place in the sexual freedom movement, but still, here we are, with yet another company shaming fat folks to market their products.

Fat folks are usually “represented” in marketing in one of two ways. We’re either 1) devoid of any sexuality and just used as props in ads or 2) depicted in an awful, “lesser-than” light if we are sexualized, as if we should be bowing down to whoever takes on the oh-so-arduous task of fucking us. (sexmachines.co.uk managed to employ both of these marketing strategies, one in each of their tweets that Lilly linked to.)

Fat people don’t need sex toy companies to reinforce the false narrative that we are undesirable and bad. We need them to center us in their marketing and actually depict us as the whole humans we are. Even though fat people live fulfilling sexual lives, it is exceedingly rare to find any positive depictions of fat people enjoying themselves or experiencing pleasure on sex toy companies’ websites or social media feeds.

Fat people deserve more than this. We need a seat at every table, not a once-every-now-and-then dinner invitation that ends with us being mocked and ridiculed. We aren’t your goddamn punchline. We’re human beings.

For more of my writing on centering marginalized folks in sex toy companies and marketing, check out “What Makes A Sex Toy Company Feminist?”.

  • Raymond

    Considering the fact that being overweight is unhealthy, why teach people to be proud that their eating themselves to death?

  • Johan

    The narrative exists because it’s true. Fat is unhealthy, undesirable, and unworthy. You yourself have chosen this by treating your body like a dumpster. You can’t expect other people to respect you when you don’t respect your own skin.

    Obesity is a sign of a diseased body and diseased brain. Disease makes people uncomfortable. Humor is often used to combat discomfort.

  • RandyBoBandy

    Johan is spot on. Fighting to reprogram human instinct into thinking fat is beautiful is a losing battle. Maybe put half that effort into eating properly and you won’t be triggered by the advertisements of some lame sex toy company.

  • Thank you for writing this. It’s so important and people definitely need to hear it. Even if they don’t want to. This is important.

  • Maxine

    Being fat is a choice to live an unhealthy life by choosing to over indulge and abusively consume more resources than necessary.

    Choosing to be an unhealthy and selfish person should not be celebrated.

  • Hillary Clinton

    REEEEEEEEE!!!!! REEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!! REEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! I HAS MAH CONDISHUNS!!!! REEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!

  • jo_1982

    Thankyou for writing this, much needed! When that named company were looking for bloggers to review, i put my name forward but was rejected as a blogger who wasn’t ‘the type they wanted’. I thought fair enough but months later, those tweets popped up and as a bigger lady, it hit me “was it because i’m fat?”.